The Plastic Hippo

August 7, 2016

Wanted: distinguished chairperson

Filed under: Law,Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 1:05 am
Tags: , , , ,

With a new Prime Minister, a new Home Secretary and a new if familiar front bench, it is reassuring to know that transparency, truth and justice remain at the heart of the British government. The inexplicable loss of three distinguished chairpersons resigning from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse appears to be a devastating if coincidental run of bad luck for a government committed to protecting children from perverts. However, to lose two distinguished chairpersons may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose three looks like carelessness.

It seems like it was only 18 months ago that Justice Lowell Goddard was appointed to chair the inquiry a mere three months after the previous one resigned. It seems that Justice Goddard thought long and hard before accepting the £480,000 annual salary, a rather nice apartment in Knightsbridge, expenses and a reasonable holiday entitlement. The then Home Secretary Theresa May stated that with her experience, expertise and intellect, Lowell Goddard was perfectly placed to head such an important inquiry. Since then, the inquiry has heard no evidence and various panel members other than distinguished chairpersons have resigned in less than pleasant circumstances.

Now that Goddard has gone the way of Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss, the CSA inquiry is going rather well. The initial terms of reference drawn up on behalf of Theresa May when she was Home Secretary ensure that the inquiry is sufficiently wide-ranging as to make any meaningful conclusion unlikely. Encompassing 13 separate investigations with the possibility of several million bits of evidence, hundreds of thousands of potential witnesses and an almost countless number of organisations and “institutions” requiring careful scrutiny, the open ended inquiry will last decades and may never end. The appointment of unsuitable if distinguished chairs means that the inquiry may never actually start.

Goddard`s resignation letter seems intriguingly sudden and somewhat terse for a judge perfectly placed to head such an important inquiry. Before the letter had even crossed Amber Rudd`s desk, unnamed and unattributed “sources” were describing Goddard as both incompetent and difficult to work with and the new Home Secretary was able to compose and long and eloquent reply accepting the unexpected resignation just in time for the evening news. Other very clever people in government are suggesting that the inquiry is too big and too complex and so should be abandoned.

In 2015, the inquiry also unfortunately “lost” a considerable amount of written evidence submitted by alleged victims who, it seems, offered their testimony confident that their voices would at last be taken seriously. Apparently the evidence was permanently deleted due to a computer malfunction. Any suggested similarity to the shredding of the infamous Geoffrey Dickens dossier decades earlier is entirely coincidental.

Again unnamed and unattributed “sources” are suggesting that the position of chair of the inquiry is a “poison chalice” and nobody in their right mind would go near it with a barge pole. Similarly, clever legal types are pointing out that the terms of reference covers institutions and not individuals which means that the employers of alleged perverts will be examined and presumably slapped on the wrist. Churches, education authorities, the BBC, the NHS and so many other institutions will be held accountable for allowing such depraved behaviour. The Houses of Commons and Lords will remain unmolested and carry on as usual. The alleged perverts will remain free from investigation and their reputations untarnished. Both the living and the dead will rest in peace and not face impertinent charges from what have been described as malicious, delusional, blackmailing fantasists’ intent on attention seeking mischief. Even as children these so-called victims inventing vile and scurrilous stories regarding selfless public servants were clearly profoundly disturbed.

If the CSA inquiry survives, it will make Chilcot and the Hillsborough Inquiry look like speed dating. It is really very simple. Threaten the victims by suggesting that they are liars and threaten those tasked with finding the truth by suggesting that they are incompetent. Discourage any future appointments with threats of reputational damage and walk away. If in doubt, blame the previous Home Secretary.

Shami Chakrabarti is only 47. Perhaps there is room in her diary for the next 40 years.


1 Comment »

  1. Like referendums, Public Inquiries are now fashionable.

    They might make good press, but are unlikely to produce anything that remotely resembles ‘justice delivered’. Instead, they divert resources, confuse the issues and con the public into the belief that something is being done

    Call me crazy, but why not properly resource a specific Criminal Investigation Unit to forensically analyse claims of abuse and carry forward any prosecutions?

    Oops – I had forgotten the Serious Farce Office and HMRC.

    Back to the drawing board.

    Comment by The Realist — August 8, 2016 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

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